This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.
Updated: April 21, 2016 at 12:25 a.m.
What: Baseball (6–4 A-10) vs. Dayton (4-8 A-10), Conference Series
Where: Woerner Field, Dayton, Ohio
When: Friday, April 22 at 3 p.m.; Saturday, at 1 p.m.; Sunday, at 12 p.m.
The tides have turned for the Colonials.
Last weekend, GW swept George Mason at home, showing off their recently healed lineup, a fairly dominant bullpen and the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.
GW picked up a team anthem while on its bus ride back from Davidson the previous weekend. Against GMU, the Colonials talked up a storm on the bench, sounding at times more like a Little League team than a Division I college team. But that’s a good thing for them, because for the first time all season, it seems like they are consistently having fun.
“The college season is a little dissimilar to the pro, where in the pro it’s just every single solitary day,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said, after Sunday’s sweep over the Patriots. “We got a weekend. We can get you fired up for a weekend.”
The team’s starting shortstop, junior Kevin Mahala, is back on the field after working through a hip flexor injury (and homering in Tuesday’s 7-2 win against Towson) and the team’s top hitter this season, sophomore Mark Osis, is back in left field after recovering from a pulled hamstring.
“They’re two guys that the team has looked to for probably the better part of 25 games,” Ritchie said. “To be guys that lead the team a little bit by their actions and by their performance. It was huge to have them back. It had an effect.”
Finally looking like the team they set out to be, the Colonials head to Dayton with another chance to win an A-10 series and maybe even sweep the Flyers.
Case for the Colonials:
Set aside the additions of two of GW’s top hitters, Mahala and Osis – the Colonials still have had one of the best hitters in A-10 play in their lineup all season.
Fresh off of an A-10 Player of the Week award, junior Bobby Campbell is red-hot. He leads the conference in on-base percentage (.524) and ranks fourth in batting average (.455). Also, Campbell is tied for third in the conference in RBIs (10). The Colonials first baseman showed his consistency after another two-RBI day Tuesday against Towson.
GW’s deep lineup bodes well against a Dayton pitching staff whose team earned run average in conference games is 4.08.
The Colonials bullpen is in a good spot after using only seven pitchers last weekend. Against Towson earlier this week, they used another two – sophomore Robbie Metz going an impressive 7.0 innings – yielding eight hits and one run, and sophomore Tyler Swiggart finishing it out.
The Colonials dropped their Wednesday night game 2-1 at Georgetown, but the bullpen proved to be solid. Sophomore Chance Malek, junior Jordan Sheinkop and junior Eddie Muhl combined for five innings of hitless baseball in relief.
GW, now winners of five of their last six, bring a hot lineup and strong bullpen into Ohio.
Case for the Flyers:
Dayton needs to not commit errors if the Flyers want to come out on top.
The team ranks dead last in fielding defense in the conference with 21 errors. GW is tied for first in committed errors with six in A-10 play.
During conference play, Dayton has allowed 49 earned runs and 72 total runs. The team’s offense has scored 58 runs.
The Flyers also boast three batters hitting over .300 in A-10 play: senior Cameron Silva (.371), junior Nick Ryan (.356) and redshirt-junior Mitch Coughlin (.311). Freshman Connor Echols leads the A-10 in walks (10).
Senior Sam Brunner has the fifth-best ERA in the A-10 during conference play, at 0.98 in six games in relief. Freshman Austin Cline ranks sixth with 21 strikeouts.
Last year, Dayton went 5-19 in conference and GW swept them. This year if the team defense can play fairly error free, they may have a chance of coming away successful against the Colonials.
The bottom line:
It is always difficult to sweep on the road, but this series poses a good opportunity for the Colonials. With momentum finally in their favor, a fully stacked bullpen and a fully functioning offense, GW could win three in a row from the Flyers.
Plus, now is the time to win. Three of GW’s four remaining A-10 series are against teams who are tied or are better than them in the standings: VCU (9-3) the weekend of April 29, Fordham (6-3) the weekend of May 6 and the regular season finale the weekend of May 13 against Saint Louis (7-2).